Being on the road and "out there" is one of the highlights of my life. As I sit here, I am contemplating getting "out there" again as soon as possible. This time, I hope my trip is as a brand ambassador for Blackburn Design #beablackburnranger2016 and as an advocate for bicycle touring!
When we are on the road there is something we all need but have troubles finding. We can rent a hotel room in an emergency situation (if there is one). But if you are "out there" enough, you know hotel rooms kind of ruin the "out there" feeling. They also become exorbitant if used too often.
Instead, there is a phenomenal program called WARM SHOWERS, in which generous people open their homes for a night to legitimate bike travelers.
Warm Showers says on their website:
"The Warm Showers Community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. People who are willing to host touring cyclists sign up and provide their contact information, and may occasionally have someone stay with them and share great stories and a drink. All members agree to host others either now or in the future, but for some members hosting may be in years or even decades in their future."
Instead of "saving water, shower with a friend", Warm Showers makes a gift to traveling cyclist who need it the most.
Every situation is a little different. Some homeowners will allow you to pitch your tent in their front lawns. Others will invite you into their home to use a spare bedroom and bath. In both cases, you probably get what we really need, a shower to wash the road wear off, and a chance to charge up those critical devices.
Having stealth camped on multiple locations in the bushes but within feet of a major highway, I can speak to the sense of safety Warm Showers hosts provide to their guests. Of course, they can't open their homes to everyone, or they soon become a boarding home and the gift to travelers turns into a job. Rather, it is a special match between the host and the cyclist in which, for a short night, the cyclist gets the things he/she needs the most and the host pays it forward.
In 1993, two friends, Terry Zmrhal and Geoff Cashman thought it would be cool to set up a hosting service for traveling cyclist. Roger Gravel began to update and manage the list. In 2005, Randy Fay added the mapping feature so people could see on the map where their host would be.
A small group of people manages Warm Showers which is a non-profit organization. There are over 80,000 members with locations throughout the world, though primarily U.S. based.
As a bicycle tourist, (and having hosted a Blackburn Ranger), touring is not just about bicycles. It is about the people you meet along the way!
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You can apply to be a Blackburn Ranger here.
You can vote for me as a Blackburn Ranger here.